The Key Challenge Facing a Head of School Search Committee #PODCAST

October 27, 2016 Peter Baron

After some time away from the podcast, I’m back and excited to pick up on a topic we covered last year with Suzanne Buck from Chatham Hall — the head of school search.

In that conversation, Suzanne talked about leaving the enrollment management chair to become a head of school (see An Inside Look at Becoming a Head of School).

In episode 40 of Blackbaud K-12 Get Connected Podcast, Tom Olverson, the former Head of School at The Rivers School and Seabury Hall School, and now a consultant with Resource Group 175, shifts our focus and talks about the board’s role and one of the key challenges they face as they conduct a search.

If you didn’t catch it, Tom recently wrote a piece for NAIS’ Independent School Magazine that examines the stats as they relate to an increase in head turnover and offers some suggestions as to why this is happening. I’m thrilled that he’s here to share more with us.

For a full breakdown of what we covered, make sure to check out the episode questions below.

You have a few listening options. Download the episode, listen to the podcast above or subscribe to our channel on iTunes!

If you’re a fan of the podcast, please do us a favor and rate and review the show on iTunes. Your support is very much appreciated.

Episode questions

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and work as a consultant for Resource Group 175.4

2. In the most recent edition of NAIS’ Independent School Magazine, you wrote the article, “"Nothing Speaks So Loudly As Your Actions" Let’s dive into the premise of the piece. What prompted you to write it?

3. You looked at the stats, and the amount of turnover at the head-level since 2009 is staggering. You talk about baby boomers retiring as one reason, but even more interesting (and prevalent) is “search bias” at the board level. What did you mean by this?

4. You wrote about bias and three types that may pop up during the search process. Let’s go through each one and the challenges that may come with each.

5. How can boards neutralize search bias?

6. You wrote about cultural fit not necessarily being an ideal way to assess the match between HOS candidate and school. Why not?

7. Let’s shift gears a bit and talk about what a new HOS should expect as he/she arrives on campus. In your estimation, what are some of the most pressing challenges facing a new head?

8. In 2016, what are skills aspiring heads should refine as they prepare for their first headship

9. How can new heads “channel their inner leader” and, simply put, why is this important?

10. As we wrap this up, let’s shift our focus back to boards and get prescriptive — for boards at the very beginning of the search process, what’s the single most important thing for them to consider as they kick off the search?

About the Author

Peter Baron

Peter Baron is the Chief Member Relations Officer at the Enrollment Management Association. Prior to joining EMA, Peter served as a senior product marketing manager, for Blackbaud K-12. Peter is the founder of edSocialMedia, a community-driven site dedicated to exploring the role of social media in education. He regularly contributes to various online communities and education conferences like NAIS, CASE/NAIS & SSATB to explain the importance of providing modern, user-friendly experiences for school constituents. Peter also serves as a trustee for Wolfeboro, The Summer Boarding School and is an Executive Committee member of TABS’ North American Boarding School Initiative.

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